The annual post-Christmas purge

We remind our family every year that we don’t want a lot of presents. We don’t do gifts between adults anymore, and the kids usually just get exactly what they need in terms of fresh, age-appropriate toys. We also encourage the gifting of used/previously loved items to cut back on waste. This year was a big improvement on years past, and I’m thankful we’ve been able to convince everyone to reduce a little. However, bringing new things into the house – regardless of how reasonable the amount – still requires drastic space-making action on our part. We live in a 1000 sq foot home with no basement (the basement is currently a rented apartment), and we like to keep our living space looking tidy and as minimalistic as possible. Clutter stresses me out. To make our job that much more emotionally intense, my wife’s childhood home is being sold and she had to bring home anything she didn’t want her dad to take to the dump. We now have boxes of stuff, including her grandmother’s good china set, to store. So every day since Christmas, my wife and I have been on a purging and organizing rampage.

This year I’ve sold a couple of dozen things on Facebook Marketplace (which paid for a nice date night!), and we made a trip to Ikea to improve Avery’s arts and crafts storage now that she’s into all sorts of colouring utensils, scissors, and paints. My wife also made a couple of wooden drawers to fit under the bookshelves and TV stand – shallow spaces we’d been unable to find baskets for.

While we were at it, we went through Avery’s closet (something we do about 4 times a year) and packed away outgrown things for baby #2, and brought out some of the bigger hand-me-down clothes we had in bins. Every time we work on tidying or organizing Avery’s room now we think about how it’ll work for two kids to share the space. It’s going to take some demolition of the lath and plaster walls and usurping of the crawl space (where we currently store about 12 large rubbermaid bins of stuff we HAVEN’T been able to purge yet) just to fit two beds in there. We have sold off family heirlooms and artwork that we don’t have wall space for and countless other sentimental and/or useful items over the years, and it’s only going to get more cut-throat when we need to take over that crawlspace to expand the kids’ room. We’re going to have to live like real minimalists…

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Our no-more-naps update

Even though Avery’s only 27 months old, we dropped her last remaining nap of the day about a month ago. She had been fighting naps and bedtimes like a kid who legitimately wasn’t tired. When we dropped the nap she coped well, staying alert and relatively happy until 7pm, and then would fall asleep happily at bedtime in 15 minutes. It was a really good solution.

But then she got sick. She has been sick with one bug or another for at least 2 weeks now, and she has been NEEDING that extra sleep. The problem is, [after we weaned from breastfeeding to sleep] it took nap training with lots of tears to get her to accept that naps happened in her bed at a certain time. I knew when we dropped the nap that we wouldn’t be able to easily go back to the way it was… So instead of a scheduled nap when she got home from daycare, she has been crashing while doing whatever we’re doing (watching a movie during quiet time, going on a stroller walk, or even colouring on the floor). Sometimes she crashes at 2pm, sometimes at 4pm. Interestingly, even an hour long nap at 4pm hasn’t been messing up bedtime – she has been begging to go to bed at 7pm. It’s clearly because of being sick. I wish I could get her to sleep earlier in the day (and in her bed), but we’re just rolling with it right now. I assume that after the holidays when our days are back to normal and she’s no longer sick, she’ll stop crashing in the late afternoon and be fine without naps again.

Mother-daughter Date Night at the Walk-in Clinic

Avery was doing better since the really-crummy-super-sick-weekend-from-hell. But suddenly yesterday I realized she was dehydrated. She didn’t have to pee in the morning (or through the night), so I figured she’d pee when she got to daycare. But when I picked her up from daycare I learned that she hadn’t peed yet, and hadn’t wanted to drink water. She wasn’t eating. In the afternoon she fell asleep with her head on my knee while we were colouring on the floor together. Then she slept on me for an hour and woke up groggy and listless. I couldn’t get her to drink water. I couldn’t get her to eat. So we packed a bag and went to the after-hours walk-in clinic when it opened at 6pm.

We waited in the packed waiting room for 2 hours, and super-mom over here forgot to bring any toys and had a nearly-dead cell phone battery. Luckily Avery had brought along a doll whom she pretended was the real patient for the doctor we were going to see.

When we first arrived, it was standing room only. I held her and rocked for almost half an hour, and although she is SOOO much heavier than she used to be, it took me back to those long nights rocking her for hours in her room when she wouldn’t sleep detached from me.

When we finally got chairs, she sat next to me reading a reader’s digest magazine… It was adorable. She also cuddled with me quietly, sang quiet little songs, played with the little hands of her doll, and watched Planet Earth on the waiting room TV. She was such an ANGEL for the entire 2 hour wait. When we finally got called in to see the doctor, it was 8pm (which is after bedtime). We then had to wait another 15 minutes for the doctor to come in. She just sat on my lap and talked about how “baby” (her doll) was sick and needed a cuddle. But she was also happy. We chatted about going home and watching tv in bed together, and although she did keep asking to go home, she never once melted down when I said we couldn’t go home yet.

The doctor was absolutely lovely and great with kids. She told us she was looking for butterflies in Avery’s ears, and then had to listen to her tummy to determine what colour “medicine” she needed… After ascertaining that Avery’s favourite colour is yellow, of course we were prescribed yellow “medicine” (Gatorade…).

Anyway, after all that we were sent home with a recommendation to try icecream and Gatorade to get her hydrated. The doctor did validate me for my decision to bring her in, though, and said I was right to follow my instincts. She was dehydrated, and we needed to remedy that immediately. Thank goodness it didn’t require a trip to the ER. Turns out, Avery loves Gatorade. She drank so much of it last night that she had three pees in her potty through the night. Shes still tired and has no appetite, but I’m making chocolate pudding for her to have when she gets home from daycare and we’ll just cuddle, watch movies, and drink yellow Gatorade until she feels better.

I kept telling her how much I LOVED spending the evening with her in that waiting room, and I had fun going on a 9pm icecream run with her. When we got home, my wife asked her how the trip to the doctor went, and Avery said, “it was fun!”

Parenting win.

Still having fun after 2 hours of waiting ❤️

Family Planning as a PhD Mom

Here’s a secret… I had been planning to start trying to make baby #2 in the first week of January. I had kept it from the blog. We had been updating our donor contract, gotten our donor on board, I’d been collecting syringes from the pharmacy, and taking a prenatal vitamin. But then my PhD progress threw a wrench in the works.

I finally got my dissertation data last week, and it was not all that I hoped it would be. It was OK, but not enough to constitute a dissertation. So, my advisory committee and I decided that I needed a second study. A new study, a new ethics application, another 400 people recruited, another big batch of data collected, and a whole new story to write up about it. My original plan was to be finished writing in spring, and defend early summer. My new plan is to finish writing in summer, and defend in fall. So conceiving in January would mean I could be defending my dissertation with a fresh baby on my boob – no thanks!

The new plan is to start trying to conceive in MAYBE March, skip April (we’re too busy in December to have a December baby), and resume in May. I’m bummed out for many reasons…

“I have two moms!”

For the last few months Avery has been sounding pretty proud of the fact that she has two moms. She shouts it out when we read books with a dad in them, or when we’re talking about her cousins and their parents, or randomly from the back of the car or while falling asleep at night: “Avery has two moms!”

She also talks about how her family looks different from others. She’ll say, “mommy has one mom.” And “Mo has one dad.” And her train of thought always concludes with another very proud sounding proclamation that she has two moms.

I love it.

Past my bedtime

We went to my wife’s work holiday party on the weekend. My mom babysat. The dinner was amazing, and it was nice to get dressed up for a change. But by 9:30, I was ready to go home and cuddle in bed watching Netflix. When the music started for the dance, I could no longer hear any of the conversations going on around me. I sat there like a lump on a log, watching the time tick by, dreaming of my comfy bed, and trying not to dwell on what time I’d be woken up in the morning, or how many times I’d be needed through the night. By 10:30 I was grumpy. Our ride was being chivalrous and not pressuring his other “fares” to wrap it up for the night. My wife sat with me but didn’t want to say anything to our ride, and didn’t want to offend him by calling a cab.

So there we sat, watching people dance, looking like the grumpy, party pooper uncles at a wedding.

Finally, by 11:45, we got our lift home. I hate being such a party scrooge, but I really just love quiet, intimate events that end before my bedtime. Am I a 90 year old trapped in a 32 year old’s body? Maybe.

On the plus side, Avery only woke once in the night, and slept in until EIGHT FUCKING THIRTY. She has never slept that late. Thank you, wonderful child.

“mommy’s my favourite” and anyone else is chopped liver

Sometimes I wish I could be straight JUST because it would be easy to fall back on gender roles to explain away inequities in my relationship. The big issue right now is my wife being second favourite to our daughter. Actually, third favourite – she says “mommy’s my favourite, Albus [the cat] is my favourite buddy.” My wife has been met with avoidant behaviour from our daughter the last month or so. She gets home from work and Avery cringes and hits her if she goes in for a hug, and becomes INSANELY clingy to me. It’s really hard, and really sad. Can’t imagine how hard and sad it is for my wife.

But in hetero relationships, we’ve heard that it’s common for the kids to want nothing to do with the dads for a good long time. It’s easy when it’s a matter of moms versus dads. Women are so often primary caregivers, and men are socialized to not care if their kids go to their mother for every booboo and request. It’s what’s normal.

I think what’s happening with my wife and daughter IS normal, to an extent, but it’s hard to see it that way when our daughter wants one mom so much more than the other mom. We’re both moms – but our roles are as different as any opposite-sex couple out there.